One of the most exciting innovations in the modern office is the wide format printer. This sophisticated device works with large or heavy print materials and creates high-quality, detailed printed items.

A wide format printer can handle complex tasks in-house, eliminating the need to hire a third party for these jobs. This has led to improved workflow and greater productivity in some competitive corners of the industry.

Wide Format Printers: An Introduction

Wide format printers are devices that print on large paper or other media. How large? You can get printers that produce work up to around 16 feet wide. More commonly available and affordable wide format devices can print media that is 24″ to 60″.

Even paper of that size can be pretty heavy, and other materials like cardstock or vinyl weigh even more. Because of this and the volume of work they’re expected to produce, wide format printers tend to be rugged devices.

That’s what wide format printers are. Here’s what they are not: wide format plotters.

A plotter is a specialized device that also creates printed materials from two to six feet wide with a high degree of precision. However, That’s where the similarities end.

Plotters use a pen on a metal arm that is moved across the media to create a highly accurate reproduction of a vector drawing. In the old days, this was the best way to make these precise images reliably. Nowadays, printers have caught up. They’re just as accurate as plotters but more versatile. Printers also don’t suffer from plotters’ infamously slow production times and don’t risk running out of pen ink mid-task, ruining the job.

What Wide Format Printers Bring to the Table

Some businesses use wide format printers to enhance workflow and upgrade their advertising campaigns. For others, these printers are a vital part of their day-to-day functioning. Depending on their specs, wide printers can produce a variety of materials, including:

  • CAD drawings
  • GIS maps
  • Other technical designs
  • Data visualizations
  • Advertising posters
  • Trade show booth displays and backdrops
  • Banners for sales and community events
  • Large canvas photo prints
  • Wall decals
  • Static window clings
  • Promotional textiles

To offer so many functions, these machines have features that you won’t find in a run-of-the-mill office printer. You’ll likely find extra-large ink cartridges, 4 to 12 ink colors, reservoirs for specialized inks compatible with non-paper materials, automated roll switching, and safety features like warning messages for unusual orders (to double-check them and prevent wasted time and materials from human error).

Wide format printers aren’t just function-rich. They’re also designed to improve workflow. The real advantage here is how quickly you can get a design file into the finished product.

Instead of having days of back-and-forth with a third-party printing service, you can create the image and adjust it over a few minutes. You’ll also be able to quickly handle incoming jobs even in the busiest periods.

Is A Wide Format Printer Right for Your Business?

Printing larger media via an outside agency can quickly become very expensive in terms of money and time. If that agency has a backlog or one of their machines breaks, you may not even get the media in time. You’ll also need to factor in the inconvenience of waiting for delivery and potential damage to your large printed items.

Wide format printers can pay for themselves quickly if you deal in a high volume of printed materials. They also give you the chance to provide immediate feedback and make on-the-spot corrections to any errors you see.

Having one of these printers on hand may also give your business a boost on the advertising front. You’ll be able to try new ways of getting a message across without the constraints of marked-up costs and delays. Many of these printers have capabilities that your company may not have explored before. This is a great chance to see how your customers might respond to outdoor advertising, logo-branded jackets, and billboard-sized displays in eye-catching colors.

However, wide format printers aren’t suitable for everyone. Due to their size and quality, they´re more of an investment than a standard-size printer. Small businesses that rarely need to print in a wider format may find it more cost-effective to outsource these tasks.

Wide format printers also have a large physical footprint. How large depends on the size of the media you’ll be working with. You will need enough space for the printer itself, room to load in printable media, and an open area around the machine for safe operation. Smaller offices may not be able to accommodate this.

What if you’re planning to move business locations in the near future? You’ll need to work out the logistics of moving your office equipment, including a potentially cumbersome wide format printer. It might be better to delay this purchase until after the transition.

Finally, make sure that the printer is compatible with your existing computers. This is primarily a concern if your company runs Linux systems or older versions of iOS or Windows.

Level Up Your Company with Wide Format Printers

Wide format printers are solidly built, versatile, and sophisticated devices. They allow you to create large blueprints, high-quality advertising posters and billboards, and other oversized materials on the fly.

You’ll be able to print the large-scale media your company needs instead of outsourcing these tasks to another company. If there are issues with the initial printed designs, you can make adjustments on the spot. Wide format printers empower a growing company in a sophisticated and fast-changing consumer marketplace.

Do you want to learn more about what this technology can offer your Sacramento business? Are you interested in adding a wide format printer to your roster of office equipment? Contact Buckmaster Office Solutions today to talk with one of our associates.